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Thread: Языковая обстановка в Латвии и др.

  1. #1
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    Языковая обстановка в Латвии и др.

    Im, an ethnic Latvian from Latvia.
    Some comments about Hanna's posts.

    Also the way that the Russian speakers are treated in the Baltic states have been getting a lot of press.
    Yes, some chauvinists (Osipov, Linderman, local stalinist party PCTVL(ЗАПЧЁЛ)) are spreading bullshit about nazism here.
    Actually I think russians here are treated quite OK.
    We have state funded education in Russian.
    Also most of advertisements are bilingual.
    Russian TV, Radio, etc are freely available.
    If you really want - you can live not knowing Latvian (almost) at all - and some people do - hell, some of them are even elected in our parliament (Saeima) .

    Actually sometimes latvians are discriminated against
    - for example I once was at a job interview, and CEO refused to speak Latvian.
    Also there are a lot of job ads that require knowledge of russian, not because it is needed for job,
    but because it is needed to speak to local inhabitants of Latvia that for some reason haven't learned Latvian.
    I cannot speak russian almost at all, but can understand almost everything.

    About non-citizenship - actually our naturalization program is quite liberal - you just need to know Latvian - that is pretty much it - there are no insane requirements like in Switzerland for example .
    And most of young russians know Latvian pretty well - non-citizens are mostly people 50+ years old and older -
    and also people who need to visit Russia frequently, because if you are Latvian non-citizen - you do not need Russian visa - I live ~30 km from Russian border, and I haven't been there because of that.

    I think all the Baltic states have mandatory military service.
    No - It was cancelled ~5 years ago.


    In Sweden there have been lots of scandals around money that's gone to the Baltics and "disappeared" and investments that have failed
    Yes - corruption still is an issue here - of course it's not that bad like in Russia, but situation is clearly improved compared to 90s.

    My tax money being spent... hm! Is anyone able to understand Latvian?
    Sign says that 85% from project is financed by EU.
    It is about renovating some kind of communication networks.


    It is a truly strange language!
    Latvian and Lithuanian are closest neighbors to Slavic languages - particulary Eastern Slavic languages.
    That's why russian words (especially russian mat ) flow into Latvian quite naturally.
    There are no good swear words in Latvian - we must borrow them from russian.

    Among other things, they add an "S" at the end of all male names... For example: Vladimirs Putins, etc!
    Yes, and russians add second endings to all latvian names - which is kinda stupid.
    For example
    Jān-is - Ян-ис
    Jān-im - Ян-ис-ам


    since the "enemy" they are preparing to potentially fight, has to be Russia.
    I am no russophobe, but after incident in Georgia in 2008 Russia appears to be a real threat - but they probably won't attack NATO member.


    I thought the situation for the Russian speakers was better in Latvia
    It is better - in Estonia they are less tolerant.


    Baltic people have already made their views about being part of the USSR 110% clear
    And yet some people think that Latvia is not a sovereign country, but some kind of autonomous oblast of Russia and refuses to learn local language - like in Soviet times.
    They probably would like that all latvians speak russian so they don't have to learn latvian at all.


    I would not walk alone on the streets of Riga late at night
    Actually most of Riga is quite safe - from your pictures - I think you were visiting "Maskačka" - shittiest part of Riga - (It also happens to be near Old town),
    full of "gopniks" (mostly russian speaking criminals and drug users) or "urlas" as we latvians call them
    Yes I will not go alone there either. But in other parts of the city - It's not that bad.

    Apparently the monthly income is about 500 - 600 USD which is about the same as Belarus
    But Belarus recently devalued their currency by 50%
    Their kolkhoz type economy is falling apart.
    And people are protesting.
    When russians are no longer subsidizing Lukashenko kolkhoz - their "miracle" came to an end.


    And also - outside Old town prices are lower - Old Town is for rich tourists

    I thought they were supposed to have super fast broadband in the Baltics?
    There is - I have 100 MB/s at home for ~15 EUR

  2. #2
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    Great post, nulle! That's cool that Latvians aren't as shy as Belarusians, and aren't afraid to speak out.

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    Набежали русофобы упёртые.

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    Contrary to putinoid's propaganda - films like "Nazism in Baltics" etc...
    There are very few nazi supporters - mostly marginal crackpots.
    Latvians generally view USSR and Nazi Germany as equal evils - and do not support their ideologies - because both of them caused only harm to our country.
    9. may is not celebrated by latvians - not because we are nazi supporters (we are not),
    but because right after that began 50 years long occupation by USSR - nothing to really celebrate for.
    Also a lot of people were deported to Siberia by communists (including my grandparents that spent 8 years there and returned home only after Staļin's death).

    All citizens here have equal rights regarless of nationality - contrary to Putin's propaganda.
    Again about non-citizens - as I said - I don't know any country where you can get citizenship that easily.
    After USSR collapse they were given a choice - what country they want to belong to (and some of them actually emigrated back to Russia), because everyone was a citizen of USSR
    - i don't see any discrimination here - just prove that you know Latvian and get your citizenship papers.
    PMLP - Citizenship - there are more about this.

    Russians here are NOT oppressed in any way and except some rare cases (well, no country is completely free of idiots ) there are no ethnic hate and violence
    - unlike for example in Kirgyzstan, where kirgyzs are lynching uzbeks and vice versa.

    I could not resist posting this after reading so much lies and misinformation about my country in Putin's controlled media.

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    Russians here are NOT oppressed in any way
    Do they think in the same way?

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    At least my russian friends do not think that they are oppressed (I cannot survey everyone of course :P).
    As I said - all citizens have equal rights.
    In last parliament elections approx ~30% of seats got Saskaņas Centrs (Центр Согласия)(Harmony Centre) - party that was elected by majority of russian voters and is supposed to protect their rights - how good are they doing it is another story.
    But unlike in Russia where there is no democracy, here russian voters can vote for politicians that are supposed to represent them.
    No one is keeping non-citizens from getting citizenship - after that they can start their own parties and vote for them and fight for their interests.
    Why should I do it for them? - I have my own interests, that may or may not be compatible with theirs.

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    Why doesn't Russian language have any status in Latvia if there are so many native Russian speakers?
    Why did Hanna get a strange reaction when she sterted speaking Russian to people in Riga?

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    Старший оракул CoffeeCup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nulle
    All citizens here have equal rights regarless of nationality - contrary to Putin's propaganda.
    Again about non-citizens - as I said - I don't know any country where you can get citizenship that easily.
    Do you know any country in which people were born, lived all their life, build roads, apartments, hospitals, bridges, rose children and after 50 or 60 years in one day became nobody and nothing just because they can't whistle, chewing a gum or said a tongue-twister faster than a young local teenager. Why these people should prove to you that they earned their right to live there by their hard work for their whole life and you use the results of their work (those roads, buildings hospitals and bridges) and offer to those people a choice to go anywhere else in this world and leave all this real estate to you?

    P.S. Lampada, please move this discussion to Politics starting from the first nulle's post.
    So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

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    Why doesn't Russian language have any status in Latvia if there are so many native Russian speakers?
    In last soviet years ethnic latvians were about ~50% of population (now ~60%).
    And there were a lot of soviet immigrants that did not understand Latvian - it's knowledge was not required - Russian was FIRST official language of Latvian SSR - Soviet regime pressured Russian onto all of us.
    That's why immediately after independence there was de-russification campaign - Russian street signs were torn down, all public sector and government shifted to Latvian only. (But Russian schools remained)
    (Previously language of government was Russian only, because everything was dictated from Moscow).
    You know - you cannot force someone to love you .
    And like in all Baltic states - law was passed that made Latvian the sole official language of Latvia.
    And after that decision was made - to integrate people on Latvian language and cultural basis.
    Some of immigrants did not like this and they left, some became citizens and some - well they do not really know what they want to be - continue to live as non-citizens.
    Apparently this approach is somewhat working, because Russian speaking population is decreasing, but Latvian speaking - is increasing.
    Maybe there is no official status, but you can still get education in Russian and almost every public place will service you in Russian.
    Why did Hanna get a strange reaction when she sterted speaking Russian to people in Riga?
    Maybe she spoke to wrong people (Latvian youth actually know Russian less and less - you generally cannot expect good Russian knowledge from ~25 and younger (Me included )).
    In district where I live (Imanta) majority of people are Russians - there would be no strange reactions :P .
    Do you know any country in which people...
    Estonia
    One of reasons also was that Baltic people were not allowed to control immigration in Soviet times - everything was pressured from Moscow - that's why some "containment" was needed afterwards when countries restored their sovereignity. (Remember that Baltic states were occupied illegally - and some of these people moved in houses and apartments, whose previous inhabitants were executed or deported).
    People (and their descendants) which were citizens before 1940 were granted citizenship automatically regardless of nationality.

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    Russian was FIRST official language of Latvian SSR
    That's false.
    And like in all Baltic states - law was passed that made Latvian the sole official language of Latvia.
    Very fair to Russian speakers law.
    Russian was widely used in the former USSR because it was the most spread language.

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    You could live there not knowing Latvian, but Russian knowledge was mandatory - that's why I consider Russian to be first.

  12. #12
    Hanna
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    Question



    Church in Karosta, an imperial Russian/Soviet ex-navy town in Eastern Latvia. If I understood things correctly, it was more or less shut off from the rest of Liepaja and people could not cross the bridge into Karosta unless they had legit business there. Lots of military families lived there, and some are still there.




    Karosta is not exactly a chic place to live nowadays.


    It was getting dark while I was getting to the military sights and I did not want to walk around there by myself so I left without having seen some of the things there.

    However I noticed that a few radar towers were still in use, and a large building that looked very much like a military kaserne (baracks) had been fixed up, was in use but there was no signs at all to indicate what it was for and lots of dogs were guarding it. Maybe Nato is doing something there, what an irony!


    ================================================== =============================================

    Sorry about my absence from this thread.
    It was very interesting to read Nulle's post. Thank you for taking the time to respond!

    I was expressing an opinion and he was expressing another, from a much more solid perspective than me, since he is Latvian. I don't think there is any problem and I respect his opinion and everything he says.

    I don't think that the Russians in Latvia are actively discriminated against in a brutal way, or anything like that. There are more problems with this in Estonia as I understand. The groups are mixing quite a bit between themselves in Latvia. In Liepaja, the mix seems to be exactly 50-50 based on languages spoken in the street.

    The thing that seems wrong to me is that there isn't more usage of Russian on town. Clearly it's either banned or strongly discouraged. Normally in bilingual countries you see both languages in use, consistently.
    However, lots of papers etc are available to buy in Russian and lots of cafes etc play Russian speaking radio stations.
    I have not watched TV but I noticed that there are plenty of Russian TV channels when I flicked through.

    I spoke with a girl whose father was Russian and mother Latvian. She said most people who took a strong stand on this were extremists and that she could understand the arguments of both sides. However she said that in Riga there are gangs fighting each other Russians vs Latvians. But most people simply don't think about it.

    Andrei, the guide I met in Belarus was born in Latvia. He said that his family "escaped" because they were being discriminated against, language-wise. They lived in Ventspils and his dad was an operator of some piece of navy monitoring equipment.

    The view that the USSR liberated Latvia which then more or less voluntarily entered the USSR (which incidentally I more or less believed while growing up) is simply not something that normal Latvians agree with.

    Practically nobody over the age of 25 can speak English to a useful level, but everyone can communicate in Russian, or in many cases speak native sounding Russian even though they are Latvian. I usually ask people if I can speak English with them, they usually look panicked and indicate "no" and I then speak Russian with them. Young people are happy to speak English though. There are plenty of young Latvians who are practically trilingual - very impressive.

    My personal opinion about this is
    :
    The state should provide services in both languages, like Belgium, UK, Finland, Switzerland etc do... That is the norm in the EU which Latvia has chosen to be in. The only reason why Latvia is not following EUs standard on minorities is because of the bad reputation of the USSR.
    Anyone who was born in Latvia, or who grew up there, including in USSR times should automatically get citizenship, regardless of language skills. Anything else is discrimination in my opinion.
    Russians who live in Latvia definitely ought to make a serious effort to learn Latvian unless they have a very solid reason not to (like if they are very old or have a learning disability). It is disrespectful and arrogant not to.
    Russians who are not prepared to respect Latvia should move somewhere else.

    I spoke with a man whose age was a bit unclear to me. We spoke in English because he wanted to practice. He said his mother was in her 50s but he looked like he was in his forties or fifties himself. He first said he could speak Latvian. Later he changed the story, it seemed, and said he could understand it but not speak well at all. He was born in Latvia, so this situation was not very impressive to me. Hard to believe he managed to learn decent English and was not a fluent Latvian speaker.

    He said that his mother was getting a pension from the state, but when she went to get it, the staff at the office refused to speak Russian with her, even though they knew it. For that reason he needed to go with her every time she had to go to this pensions agency. He himself was unemployed but if I understood him right he was a specialist on a piece of software that is used for steel production. He was off to a job interview the next day.

    I also think he said that he himself was not currently a Latvian citizen, but in the process of becoming one. People who are not citizens have a document that cannot be used for travelling anywhere other than Russia. Of course, there is nobody to stop them going elsewhere in the EU since there are no borders anymore. But they could not for example travel to the USA on this document.

    With a few exceptions it is almost impossible to look at people and guess whether they are Russian or Latvian speakers. Only if somebody has very dark complexion and look almost impossible as a Northern European - then they are likely to be Russian. But the dress sense is the same and peoples behaviour is similar. The Russian people seem very un-Russian in many ways. Or maybe my stereotypes of Russian people are wrong.

    I saw a churchyard where people of all faiths and backgrounds were buried together. Orthodox, Lutheran and Catholic.
    Some Russians actually had stars and even hammer and sickle on their gravestones. Hm! Communism is not the way to get into heaven! Lots of people had a photo of themselves on their gravestone. I have never seen that before.

    There was a very strange part of the church yard that consisted of about 200 white identical graves of people with Latvian names. They were all born in 1919 or 1920. An obelisk with a swastika (nazi symbol) was raised near these graves, and there were some swastikas on the gates to this area too. There was a text in Latvian which I could not understand at all.
    I have no idea what this was about. If it was something raised by the Nazis during the war, then I really can't understand that the Soviets let it stay as it was. I saw this on the way to the "Karosta" navy base town.

    My camera was having some problems, so the pictures in this post have been taken by other people.

    Basically some of Karosta has been re-instated as it was (although without any maintenance, so it looks crap...) Tourists can even sleep in a Soviet military prison, as a "hotel".

    In my childhood there were some problems with foreign (unknown) submarines sneaking around the cost of Sweden. Most people thought they were from the USSR, namely from the Liepaja navy base (i.e. Karosta). However later, long after the end of the Cold War it turned out that the majority of the incidents involved Nato submarines.






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    that cannot be used for travelling anywhere other than Russia.
    I think, they could not go to Russia without a visa before 2008.
    The Russian people seem very un-Russian in many ways.
    What are those ways?

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    Lots of people had a photo of themselves on their gravestone
    Yes, it is quite popular here.
    Russians who live in Latvia definitely ought to make a serious effort to learn Latvian unless they have a very solid reason not to (like if they are very old or have a learning disability). It is disrespectful and arrogant not to.
    Russians who are not prepared to respect Latvia should move somewhere else.
    Completely agree.
    But there are people who do not respect this country, and also do not want to go anywhere else.

    the staff at the office refused to speak Russian with her, even though they knew it
    As I said - many people (me included) can understand Russian well, but speaking and writing is another matter.
    In Latvian schools they do not teach Russian as mandatory subject anymore.
    I have no idea what this was about.
    It is Latvian Legionnaires cemetery.
    Latvian Legion members were forcibly conscripted by Nazi Germany in 1943 and sent to fight Red Army.
    Some extremists claim that they participated in Holocaust, which is false, because all jews in Latvian territory were exterminated before 1943.

    But soviets also forcibly conscripted latvians in the Red Army and sent them to fight Latvian Legion and other German forces.
    It was a real tragedy - brothers were forced to fight against each other - another reason why 9. may is nothing to celebrate for.
    The view that the USSR liberated Latvia which then more or less voluntarily entered the USSR (which incidentally I more or less believed while growing up) is simply not something that normal Latvians agree with.
    Yes, because it is Soviet propaganda - my grandparents didn't voluntarily deport themselves :P .
    Clearly it's either banned or strongly discouraged.
    It is banned by the law - you can be fined if you don't comply:
    (4) Information included in statements, signs, posters, placards, announcements or other notices, if it affects the lawful interests of the public and is intended for public awareness in places accessible to the public, shall be provided in the official language, except in cases prescribed in Paragraph five of this Section.
    (5) Observing the purpose of this Law, and the basic principles for the use of language contained in Section 2 of this Law, the Cabinet shall determine cases where a foreign language may be used concurrently with the official language in information that is intended for public awareness in places accessible to the public.
    By the Official language law - Russian is regarded as a foreign language.

    There is a mechanism for adding or removing official languages in our constitution (Satversme).
    The only way to do this is through a referendum.
    At least half of all voting age citizens must take part, and at least half of all voting age citizens MUST vote "FOR".
    This means that at least ~750 000 citizens need to participate in this referendum and all of them need to vote "for".
    But since Russian speaking Latvian citizens are only about ~300 000 and also ~300 000 non-citizens - Russian will not be an official language anytime soon.
    4. The Latvian language is the official language in the Republic of Latvia. The national flag of Latvia shall be red with a band of white.
    77. If the Saeima has amended the first, second, third, fourth, sixth or seventy-seventh Article of the Constitution, such amendments, in order to come into force as law, shall be submitted to a national referendum.

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    English Edition

    В обычных странах церковь отделена от государства, а в России - от Бога.

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    Do you know any country in which people were born, lived all their life...
    More on this.
    Latvian SSR ceased to exist like the rest of Soviet Union.
    Latvia after 1990 was NOT a new country like Belarus or Ukraine.
    We restored pre-WW2 Latvia with the same constitution, laws, etc...
    And this country IS internationally recognized, even by Russia (who does not admit that they occupied us illegally).
    That's why only pre-war citizenships were restored (there was no such thing as Latvian SSR citizenship anyway).
    And even some latvians did not receive citizenship automatically if they or their predecessors were not citizens before 1940 - fair game for everyone.

    So try to look from this perspective.
    Latvia was NOT a sovereign country between 1940 - 1990 - and we had no control about anything that happened here.
    If your apartment was invaded by someone and he reorganized it by his taste.
    Are you OBLIGED to unconditionally accept EVERYTHING that he had done there after you throw him out?
    We are not OBLIGED to unconditionally accept Soviet laws about which we had no control about.

    Of course if someone decided to remove citizenship from Russian speaking Latvian citizens NOW,
    I will be first to go and protest about it, because every citizen should be equal regarless of nationality.

  17. #17
    Hanna
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    Nulle, I totally understand your perspective, and I also understand how the Russians see it.

    But if Latvia just looks to the future, then you've got something VERY good going: You are a multilingual country, with lots of young people actually speaking three languages (including 2 big European languages) fluently. You've got a great little strategic spot on the map: Next to Russia with all its resources, next to the Baltic Sea and not far from Scandinavia who have always had strong links to the Baltics (and also invaded from time to time...) + close to Poland etc and now in the EU.

    Nobody hates your country or have any historical issues with it, unlike a few other countries in Europe that are always treated with a bit suspicion. You are "the new kid on the block" in the EU at the moment. I think Latvia should be careful to build an image of a nice and sweet little country who is open and friendly to everyone.
    Btw, Liepaja is really amazing. What an awesome beach! I am getting a tan.

    So I think you should let the past be the past, try to focus on the positives and get everybody integrated and feeling positive about being Latvian and European, Regardless of their native language... and utilise the relationship with Russia for positive reasons, like business and scientific exchange.

    Please don't think I am lecturing or meddling. This is just my subjective opinion, and I realise it doesn't matter much, or that it's not really my business.

    Could you explain how the Baltic states feel about each other? Is there lots of interaction between the countries?

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    Nobody hates your country
    Zatlers’ official visit to Moscow did not change Russia’s attitude towards Latvia | BNN-NEWS.COM
    Except Russia apparently.
    It is problematic to do business with Russia when Latvia is considered an enemy by average Russians. (Putin's propaganda surely had something to do with this)
    Also Latvians, I have talked to, that are doing business with Russia say that it's nearly impossible to do it without bribing someone.
    Please don't think I am lecturing or meddling.
    It's OK. It's always good to hear foreigner's opinion about my country.

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    Latvia is considered an enemy by average Russians.
    Ha-ha-ha. Russians do not think of Latvia much. They are not satisfied with Latvian position. That's Latvians who consider Russia to be an enemy.

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    Russian is regarded as a foreign langua
    Russian is spoken by a large part of the population. It is very unfair that it's not an official language.

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